New parliament, new MPs, but familiar attitudes amid bizarre SDLP outbursts at unionists

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood joked that he "looks forward to the end of tribal politics"SDLP leader Colum Eastwood joked that he "looks forward to the end of tribal politics"
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood joked that he "looks forward to the end of tribal politics"
Some of Northern Ireland’s new MPs spoke for the first time in the House of Commons on Tuesday, amid outbursts from two SDLP representatives from County Londonderry.

As DUP leader Gavin Robinson made an apolitical speech about the appointment of a new Speaker, he referenced the Guildhall in Londonderry.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood could be heard shouting “Derry” in the background amid slightly bemused faces from other opposition MPs.

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The DUP’s Foyle MLA Gary Middleton said Mr Eastwood needs to calm down.

“Colum Eastwood needs to grow up. That’s childish behaviour in the House of Commons. Interrupting Gavin’s speech to make such a narrow point shows a lack of maturity. It takes a certain mentality to get that wound up about the name ‘Londonderry’. He should calm himself and focus on more constructive politics”, he said.

Mr Eastwood told MPs he is affirming allegiance to the King “under protest”.He said: “I read out this empty formula in order to represent my constituents but it’s under protest.“I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors according to law.“My true allegiance is to the people of Derry and to the people of Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the SDLP’s East Londonderry MLA Cara Hunter reacted to a social media post showing Jim Allister in the House of Commons. She commented “we’ve just entered the sixth circle of hell”.

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MPs heard new MPs Jim Allister and the Alliance Party’s Sorcha Eastwood speak for the first time.

The Lagan Valley MP said her presence “demonstrates a changing, more shared and integrated Northern Ireland, and of that in Alliance we are very proud”.

Mr Allister said “I come on behalf of constituents in Northern Ireland with a very clear message. That Northern Ireland’s place within this United Kingdom must be restored. We must end the partitioning of our Kingdom by a foreign border”.

He said the situation where 300 areas of law are made by a foreign parliament must also end.

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